It sounds easy to figure out your curl type or curl types. However, anyone who has ever experienced rave reviews for a curl product only to find that their expectations were not met is aware of the realities.
Although it may seem daunting at first, what doesn’t work in curly world? Naturally Curly, which offers a variety of resources, has developed a classification system that allows you to easily identify your curl pattern. It ranges from 2A through 4C. The number indicates the number of curl families. The letter indicates how tight your curls are within those families. Curl type 1 refers to the absence of curl, or in other words, straight. Type 2 is waves. Type 3s are spiraled curls. Type 4s are coils and kinks.
Knowing your curl type is important
Although your curl pattern can be easily seen in the mirror, it is important to listen to it, according Shai Amiel (The Curl Doctor) on Instagram. Your routine can be mapped out using your curl types. If you have big curls, it is a good idea to avoid using too weak products and opt for heavy-hitting creams. You can also focus on products that won’t weight down fine curls.
Vernon Francois, celebrity hairdresser, said that knowing your curl type is a great way to spot buzzwords in the hair-care aisle. He says, “Everyone is constantly confronted with their hair texture and how to improve it. This simplifies it.” Then, you can go from there to find the best solution for your hair.
A curl definer and a leave-in product are the basics of the routine. But Francois and Amiel agree that there are other factors that can bring out the best in your hair texture. Although there was some disagreement about the system, it works well. However, as with all things, the more you know your hair the easier it is to choose the right curly-hair products.
How to choose the right products for your curl style
Before we go into the details of the nine types of curls, let’s first define three terms that will influence how products work for your hair. These are porosity and elasticity. They also include curl variance.
Porosityporosity may not be the most appealing word in hair talk, but it can help narrow down the products that will give your curls the shape they desire. This refers to the ease with which your hair absorbs liquids. It is why it can take so long to dry. Morning showerers are well aware of this term. Francois suggests a simple test to determine where you fall on the porosity spectrum. Take a small amount of hair and dip it in water. You now know how porosity works.
If your hair is able to float, it is nonporous. It doesn’t absorb product easily so you need to use heavier creams. If your hair sinks, it absorbs liquids easily. Francois suggests that you look for lighter products made from water.
ElasticityAlthough it may seem obvious, elasticity is the quality of your hair’s snap-back. Amiel recommends stretching your curls with your fingers. If the curl doesn’t return to its original position, it means that it lacks elasticity and requires moisture. He warns against using oils to accomplish the task. This sentence is a frightening one for oil-loving people, but unfortunately he compares them to poor wetsuits.
We know oil and water can’t mix so don’t use oily products to your wet hair. Amiel says that if your hair is damp and you apply an oil-based product to it, the water will push out the oil and make it sit on top. It’s similar to trying to shower in a wetsuit. Your hair doesn’t get any moisture so it becomes dry, brittle, and falls off. Amiel suggests water-based products instead. They may seem lighter and less powerful but you can feel confident knowing that they are actually slipping into your hair, not just sitting on top.
Curl VarianceWhat happens if you have two different types of curls on one head? Francois said that it is very common. The majority of curls are somewhere in between or have multiple patterns. He recommends using more product for stronger curl sections.
How to find out where you are on the curl type chart
Are you unsure which type of curl you are? We asked professionals to help us identify and determine each curl pattern. They also gave us product suggestions to make your next visit to the curl-care aisle more welcoming. We all know how quickly our jars and tubes go emptyType 2A
Type 2A can cause hair to have a slight curl and a lot of body. The porosity can play a role in frizz. Depending on the damage done by chemical or heat, you will typically have hair that is between medium and low porosity. Frizz can be minimized by using hydrating shampoos and conditioners for long hair.
Leigh Hardges is a stylist at Maxine salon in Chicago. She suggests water-based products such as mousses and gels for the best waves. Kerastase Discipline Curl Ideal, Oribe Gel Serum Radiance are two of her favourite styling products.
Kim Kimble, a celebrity stylist, describes this curl type as “beachy waves and a loose S-pattern without much bounce.”
Frizz can sometimes be an issue for 2B. Extra moisture can help. Kimble suggests adding a mask to your shampoo routine at least twice per month. Use water-based lotions or creams like the Aveda Smooth infusion Style-Prep Smoother and Moroccanoil Smoothing Lotion to achieve softer, more uniform waves.
Marcus Francis, celebrity hairstylist, describes Type 2C as a deep-wavy or “a true definition S-waves” style. Your hair will be curly and easy to style, but it is susceptible to frizz. Each strand of your hair will still have a smooth texture. This makes it more susceptible to heat damage, particularly if chemically treated.
Francis suggests applying a mask two times a month to maintain manageability and moisture. Hardges recommends applying a thin layer of cream-based products to smoothen the hair’s cuticle and reduce frizz. For a defined, bouncy look, we love Amika Curl Corps Curl Definiting Cream and Better Natured Damage Repair Strengthening Leaf-In Cream.
Type 3A is loose spiral curls that don’t shrink much. A permanent marker can be used to wrap the loop of your curl. Hardges advises against shampooing your hair too often as it can dry out your curls. Instead, you should shampoo your hair every five to seven day for healthier curls. Your hair will look better if you use leave-ins and masks rather than a regular conditioner. One Hardges recommends? The Joico Moisture Recovery Treatment Balm.
You will need additional protection if you decide to straighten your hair. Products that protect your hair from heat and moisture should be used. Hardges says that the Mizani Thermasmooth shine extend is a great heat protector and locks in shine.
Type 3B has a tighter curl with a spring back of about 1 to 2 inches. This requires more care. Although a pencil will fit in your curls, they will likely be looser at the front of your head. Francis suggests that you wash your hair at least once a week. This is because it can dry out your curls.
If you have access to heat masks, you’ll get the best results every time that your skin is cleansed and condition. You can use a deep-conditioning cap that you can heat in the microwave to make a difference, but you can also soak in the steam from your shower or dry your hair under a bonnet dryer to get the product into your curls. Kimble says that butter, oils, creams, and oils will give hair moisture and flexibility for styling. You might try something like Pattern Beauty’s Leave In Conditioner or Better Natured Hydrating Milk.
You may find that 3C curls can create a variety of textures. Some might be corkscrew-like, while others might be tighter. Kimble says that natural textures are usually coarse. Handle your hair gently and use a leave in conditioner. Hardges recommends Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Hair Oil and Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Hair Conditioner as the best products to help your hair retain its moisture.
Applying a thicker styling butter or cream to your hair will make your curls look more uniform and lush. Oribe’s Styling Butter Curl Enhancing Creme is made with avocado and olive oils for deep hydration.
Type 4A hair can be coily. A toothpick could fit in your curl loop. These curls can shrink more as they wrap around themselves or become more elongated. Moisture and hydration are essential to keep your curls looking and feeling great. Hardges recommends using the LOC (leave in, oil, and cream) method to lock in the moisture you hair needs. She loves Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic Curl Stimulator for styling. It is an aloe-based and firm-hold curl-enhancing product.
Type 4B hair is more like a zigzag than a curl. It is fragile and porous and susceptible to breaking. This is why you need to give it lots of love and care, such as deep conditioning and hydration.
Kimble claims that the LOC method will make your hair softer and more flexible for styling. Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Curl Sculpting Custard provides moisture and shine for your curls. For coily girls, another great option is Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Curl Sculpting Custard. SheaMoisture’s African Black Soap Bamboo Charcoal purification Masque is a game changer for dry, brittle ends.
Similar to 4B textures but with 4C hair, the coils are tightly coiled so that you may not be able to see its zigzag pattern even if you stretch it. The 4C coils are tightly coiled and wrap around each other with very little or no curl. Kimble recommends using heavier, hydrating gels and pomades. Products containing butters will be good for your hair, especially when shampooing. We love Kimble’s new Curl Defining Shampoo & Conditioner for Afro-textured kinks & coils.
Not only is 4C the most fragile curl type, but it is also more susceptible to shrinkage and snapping if it is not straightened or buffed out. Francis recommends the Better Natured Heat Styling Oil when styling with any hot tool. Natural styling with the LOC method is the best way to nurture and protect your coil.